Most Affordable Online Master’s in Communication Programs 2020

| Staff

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Communication Programs 2020
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Most Affordable Online Master's in Communication Badge

Communication degree programs explore the creation and conveyance of information in relationships, organizations, and cultures. Typically two-year degrees, MS and MA in communication programs cultivate skills in writing, speaking, comprehending, and analyzing information. MS programs often focus heavily on research and theory, while MA programs may emphasize more creative and professional aspects of the field.

On-campus and online master’s in communication programs may require an accredited bachelor’s degree in a related discipline, but some schools accept applicants from any academic background. To graduate, master’s candidates typically must complete a thesis or other project.

Many communication master’s programs offer specializations in areas such as advertising, public relations (PR), corporate communication, and journalism, and graduates often pursue careers in corresponding arenas. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that public relations specialists earn a median annual salary of $61,150. The BLS also projects jobs for these specialists to grow by 7% from 2019-2029.

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Accredited Online College Programs

What Are the Goals of Communication?



An essential aspect of life, communication pervades interpersonal relationships and public domains, including media and entertainment, advertising and marketing, politics and culture, and the performing arts.

By cultivating both foundational and specialized communication skill sets, communication master’s programs can help qualify graduates for management positions. Some working professionals use this degree to facilitate transition into new careers in areas such as public relations, politics, business, and journalism.

What Are the Benefits of a Degree in Communication?



Earning an advanced communication degree can lead to salary advancement, promotion, new career opportunities, and improved relationships.

Improved Personal Relationships: Studying communication enriches students’ understanding of other people and cultivates effective techniques for listening, expressing thoughts and feelings, and establishing boundaries.

Improved Professional Performance: Communication graduates can apply their learning to professional roles and relationships. Many communication courses and concentrations focus on public relations and business communication situations and strategies.

Diverse Career Opportunities: A communication master’s degree can help qualify students for careers in diverse fields such as journalism, marketing and advertising, media planning, and public relations.

Promotion: Many entry-level media and communication positions require a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree can position graduates for leadership positions such as marketing manager, public relations manager, and postsecondary education administrator.

Salary Advancement: Some communication professionals earn an advanced degree to move up their company pay scale or to qualify for better-paying jobs elsewhere.

Accreditation for a Master’s in Communication



When choosing between communication programs, prospective students should pay close attention to accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high academic standards. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. The Council of Higher Education Accreditation oversees several regional accrediting agencies.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions.

Programs within a school may also receive accreditation. Prospective communication students should look for programs accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication or the National Association of Schools and Art. Students can verify a school or program’s accreditation status through the Department of Education’s searchable database.

FAQ

Question Answer
What can you do with a master’s in communication? Communication master’s degrees support careers in public relations, journalism and media, advertising and marketing, and organizational administration.
How long is a master’s in communication? Communication master’s programs usually take about two years of full-time study to complete, but some schools offer accelerated and/or part-time programs.
Does a communication degree pay well? PayScale salary data suggests that master of arts in communication graduates make an average annual salary exceeding $63,000.
How do I start a career in communication? Many communication jobs require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, so aspiring communication professionals typically begin their career by earning a bachelor’s degree.

Courses in a Communication Master’s Program



Communication master’s programs vary by school, degree type (MS or MA), and concentration. However, most online master’s in communication programs include research, theory, professional, and capstone courses. Programs also typically feature elective course and concentration options that facilitate specializations in areas such as digital storytelling, corporate communication, organizational management, and public relations.

Most communication master’s programs feature theses or other projects that encourage advanced critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills. Master’s students may also participate in communication internships that facilitate hands-on learning.

Course content and titles vary by program, and the following list outlines several courses commonly found in master’s in communication programs.

Communication Theory

This core course surveys communication theory and its various applications in research and practice. Students learn modern theories pertaining to interpersonal communication, public relations, mass communication, and persuasion. Theories covered may include actor-network, groupthink, social learning, and cognitive dissonance. Learners may also encounter adaptive structuration theory, agenda-setting theory, and social exchange theory.

Communication Research Methods

This course trains students in gathering, understanding, evaluating, and applying research data in communication problem-solving. Enrollees learn to ethically utilize and analyze common qualitative and quantitative research methods, including case studies and surveys. Learners may study topics like textual analysis, experimental methods, and naturalistic inquiry. This course also cultivates skills in writing and presenting communication scholarship.

Strategic and Corporate Communication

Familiarizing enrollees with communication principles used by strategists and corporations, this course typically focuses on business-related media strategies and communication campaigns. Learners gain skills in audience targeting, campaign creation and evaluation, and stakeholder communication. They also study communication principles and strategies for community engagement, government relations, and public affairs. This course may appear as a core requirement or as part of a strategic and corporate communication concentration.

Strategic Public Relations

Exploring the public relations branch of strategic communication, this course covers public relations theories, principles, ethics, and applications. Topics may include organizational environment, situations, and PR responses. Enrollees learn how to create effective public relations strategies, objectives, plans, and designs. This course also covers the various uses of social media channels for public relations strategy and communication.

Persuasive Communication

Often a core requirement, this course examines major persuasion theories and discusses the role of audience, situation, and message in successful persuasion. Topics covered may include humor, argumentation, presentation, and visual persuasion. Learners may practice composing and analyzing persuasive messages in interpersonal, cultural, and mass media contexts. This course also examines the ethics of persuasion in various situations and media.

How to Become a Public Relations Specialist



According to the BLS, public relations specialist positions usually require a public relations-related bachelor’s degree from an accredited school. Common related majors include communication, English, business, and journalism. Many communication and journalism majors create portfolios to showcase their communication skills and talents.

Ideally, aspiring public relations specialists also acquire related experience through a job or internship. Earning a communication master’s degree and/or professional certification can also improve candidates’ job prospects.

Career and Salary Outlook for Communication Majors



Graduates of communication master’s programs can work in a variety of sectors, industries, and roles. Many graduates pursue careers in journalism, media planning, marketing and advertising, or public relations. The following list outlines several common careers for graduates.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager
Collaborating with advertising, design, financial, and management teams, these managers create campaigns and programs to attract consumer interest. They’re often responsible for areas like contract negotiation, personnel management, market research, and campaign planning. Candidates typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and some related professional experience.

Market Research Analyst
Tasked with predicting sales prospects by tracking market conditions, market research analysts help guide company decisions on areas like product choice, pricing, and target demographics. These analysts often spend their days collecting and analyzing data, forecasting performance, measuring marketing programs and strategies, and presenting information to clients and executives.

Postsecondary Education Administrator
These leaders may manage entire schools or departments, such as student affairs, admissions, academics, or finance. Duties depend on the role, but they often include strategic planning, budgeting, personnel management, and university reporting. Most postsecondary education administrators need at least a master’s degree.

Public Relations and Fundraising Manager
Public relations and fundraising managers oversee an organization’s public image or funding sources, respectively. PR managers compose and review press releases and advise executives, while fundraising managers may meet with donors and apply for grants. These professionals often hold bachelor’s or master’s degrees in related fields.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager $135,900 6%
Market Research Analyst $63,790 18%
Postsecondary Education Administrator $95,410 4%
Public Relations and Fundraising Manager $116,180 9%

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Communication Majors



A communication-related master’s degree meets or exceeds the minimum education requirements for many communication-related careers, but some jobs may require or prefer additional credentials, such as professional certification. The following three certifications can bolster candidates’ job prospects.

Communication Management Professional Certification



Awarded by the Global Communication Certification Council, this certification serves generalist and specialist business communicators and managers. Eligible candidates need eight years’ experience and 40 hours’ approved training. Two years’ education experience can substitute for two years’ professional experience. Candidates must pass a certification exam.

Strategic Communication Management Professional Certification



Designed for strategic communication experts who advise executives, this credential requires 11 years of experience and 20 training hours. Candidates must pass an exam and submit a recommendation letter from a mentee or an approved organization where the candidate provided pro-bono communication guidance to leadership.

Certificate in Principles of Public Relations



Candidates for this entry-level certificate must be within six months of graduation from a PR-related degree program at an accredited school. Candidates must also be members of the Public Relations Student Society of America or another organization that participates in the Universal Accreditation Board. To obtain certification, candidates complete a 13-lesson online course and examination.”

How Can a Master’s Student Pay for College?



Funded by various types of organizations, scholarships typically consist of a financial award granted based on qualifications including identity, field of study, financial need, and/or academic merit. Recipients do not need to repay scholarship awards. The following list outlines several financial aid opportunities for communication master’s students.

Center for Justice and International Law communication Internship
Who Can Apply: CEJIL awards this internship to communication and journalism students, as well as graduates focused on Latin American human rights issues. Eligible applicants must possess strong skills in web editing and social media, research, and writing in English and Spanish. Translation experience, NGO experience, and/or Portugese language skills may improve candidates’ competitiveness for this internship.
Amount: Varies

Broadcast Education Association Scholarships
Who Can Apply: The BEA runs several scholarships for students demonstrating high integrity, strong academic performance, and electronic media professional potential. Applicants must submit two recommendation letters, transcripts, and a thesis or dissertation proposal (if applicable).
Amount: $1,000-$4,000

International Radio and Television Society Summer Fellowship
Who Can Apply: Available to high-performing undergraduate and graduate students in any major, IRTS’ nine-week, expenses-paid summer fellowship provides an elite media bootcamp experience for aspiring communication professionals. Recipients learn about diverse media, interview industry leaders, and gain real-world experience at media corporations.
Amount: Travel expenses to NYC, nine weeks of Manhattan housing, and a living allowance.

Eastern Communication Association Centennial Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship goes to nominated master’s in communication enrollees with ECA membership. Thesis advisors must write a nomination letter, and nominees must submit a four-page summary of their original research project idea.
Amount: Varies

Bodie McDowell Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Awarded by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, this scholarship serves talented undergraduate and graduate learners aspiring to outdoor communication careers. Candidates must submit letters of recommendation, work samples, and clear articulations of their outdoor communication career goals.
Amount: $1,000-$5,000

Affordable Online Master’s in Communication Programs 2020



  1. Southeastern Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Durant, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Southeastern's most affordable online counseling degree offers a master's in school counseling that takes degree-seekers just over 12 months to complete. Coursework includes assessment in counseling, human growth and development, and counseling children and adolescents. The program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

    Southeastern's Career Management Center (CMC) offers degree-seekers and alumni numerous virtual resources, including online appointments, career development guides, and links to job exploration websites. The CMC also features teamwork and collaboration skill-building exercises and leadership tips. As students near graduation, they can research the latest open jobs on an exclusive job board.

    Admission requirements include a minimum 2.0 undergraduate GPA, a valid teaching license, and two years of teaching experience. All degree-seekers pay the same per-credit tuition rate regardless of residency. Incoming students must submit FAFSA results to apply for institutional aid programs.

  2. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    In ULM's online master's in counseling program, degree-seekers select between clinical mental health counseling and school counseling. Aspiring school counselors can specialize in elementary or secondary education. Clinicians-in-training can choose among child, adolescent, and adult specialization options. Both programs are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    The ULM Career Center website offers learners to access free resume critiques, virtual career fairs, mock interviews, and how-to videos that cover interviewing skills. Additionally, students can log in to Focus 2 Career to explore potential careers.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and a minimum 290 combined GRE score. ULM does not charge out-of-state tuition. Online degree-seekers may qualify for federal grants, loans, or work-study opportunities, depending on their FAFSA results.

  3. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    BU's master's in counseling online program awards an MS in clinical mental health counseling. The curriculum includes courses in qualitative research methods and program evaluation, introduction to counseling theories, and the diagnosis of mental and behavioral disorders. Students must complete a two-part residency and a four-part internship.

    Career Services (CS) advisors help learners write a resume, hone interviewing skills, and network with potential employers. Specialized CS services for veterans include a transitioning guide and links to federal job websites. Degree-seekers may also register for a virtual career fair on Handshake.

    Prospective degree-seekers submit a resume, two recommendation letters, undergraduate transcripts, and a 1,000-word statement of interest. They must also pass a criminal background check and need a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate as on-campus learners. BU provides links to multiple private scholarships and grants.

  4. New Mexico Highlands University
    Location

    Las Vegas, NM

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Prospective students who want academic flexibility enroll in NMHU's most affordable online counseling degree. The program offers concentrations in clinical mental health, clinical rehabilitation, rehabilitation, and vocational evaluation in rehabilitation. Each concentration requires a practicum and an internship in the second year. Some learners may need to complete coursework on NMHU's Las Vegas, New Mexico, campus.

    The Career Services Center (CSC) provides learners and graduates with many resources, including OptimalResume, resume critiques, and the latest job postings. Students can also access O*NET's self-assessments to narrow down a career path. The CSC website also features guidance on how to create an attractive Handshake profile.

    Application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, two references, and a resume. NMHU does not offer conditional admission to applicants who do not meet the GPA cutoff. Online graduate degree-seekers may qualify for one of four institutional scholarship programs.

  5. Lamar University
    Location

    Beaumont, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    LU features affordable master's in counseling degrees with options in clinical mental health counseling, counseling and development, and a specialization in professional counseling. Each 60-credit degree includes coursework in counseling skills, group counseling theories and techniques, and individual counseling theories. Most full-time students can earn the degree in just 30 months.

    Career Development (CD) professionals help degree-seekers improve interviewing skills, create a LinkedIn account, and use Handshake. The CD website offers online resources, such as virtual career events and workshop presentations. Alumni can explore professional development guides covering workplace professionalism and time management skills.

    Applicants need a minimum 3.5 undergraduate GPA and must submit GRE scores. Each counseling master's degree charges the same affordable tuition rate. LU's Student Financial Aid Handbook details how learners can qualify and apply for federal financial aid programs.

  6. Prairie View A & M University
    Location

    Prairie View, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    PVAMU offers one of the most affordable online counseling degrees. Core courses include orientation to school counseling and development, career development counseling, and organization and administration of school counseling programs. Degree-seekers also complete one school practicum and two school internships.

    Students can explore many resources on PVAMU's Career Services website, including a resume template for teachers, common resume mistakes, and job postings. PVAMU offers Focus 2 Career to help students find the right career path. Learners can also participate in an online mock interview and search for positions on Handshake.

    Applicants need a valid teaching license and two years of experience. Other application materials include three recommendation letters, a cover letter, and a teaching service record. Texas degree-seekers can apply for a Texas Public Education Grant or TEXAS Grant. Out-of-state students can explore various institutional aid opportunities.

  7. Medaille College
    Location

    Buffalo, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Medaille's online master's in counseling program trains the next generation of clinical mental health counselors. The 60-credit, two-year degree requires a three-semester internship and coursework in cultural and social diversity, psychopathologies, and child abuse mandated reported training. Medaille counseling alumni work at hospitals, managed care organizations, and substance abuse treatment centers.

    Students nearing graduation can explore the MavJobs board to browse career opportunities. Learners can also log in to TypeFocus to take a career self-assessment. Students can sign up on Handshake to attend virtual career fairs that attract major employers.

    Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, a letter of intent, and three recommendation letters. Medaille does not charge out-of-state tuition, and veterans receive an automatic 5% tuition discount. Learners can explore several ways to fund their education, including payment plans, institutional aid, federal grants, and loans.

  8. University of Southern Maine
    Location

    Portland, ME

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    USM's master's in counseling online degree features a concentration in rehabilitation and includes courses in psychiatric rehabilitation, vocational counseling and placement, and perspectives in chemical dependency. Learners complete 63 credits and attain 600 internship hours at a local healthcare facility. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

    The USM Career and Employment Hub (CEH) allows students and alumni to schedule virtual appointments, attend online events, and gain assistance crafting resumes and cover letters. CEH events introduce learners to major state employers such as Covertrus, Sweetser, and Northern Light Health.

    USM admits new learners only in the fall semesters. Prospective students need a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Other application materials include a resume, essay, three recommendation letters, and either MAT or GRE scores. Students can browse several private scholarship opportunities on the USM scholarships website.

  9. Ottawa University-Online
    Location

    Ottawa, KS

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Prospective learners researching the most affordable online counseling degrees with concentration options may want to consider OU. The degree's four concentrations include Christian counseling, expressive arts therapy, gerocounseling, and treatment of trauma abuse and deprivation. This hybrid program requires some on-campus courses at one of OU's three national campuses.

    Career Development and Placement advisors help students with virtual job fairs and seminars, interviewing guidance, and job listings. Kansas students can use the Kansas Career Pipeline to research jobs. All learners can speak with an advisor concerning internship and job shadowing opportunities.

    Graduate application requirements include a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, three recommendation letters, and a two-page essay. OU does not charge out-of-state tuition, and online degree-seekers pay an affordable distance-education fee each term. Students who earned a bachelor's degree from OU may qualify for the $500 Alumni Impact Scholarship.

  10. West Virginia University
    Location

    Morgantown, WV

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    WVU's affordable master's in counseling program emphasizes clinical rehabilitation and mental health. The 18-course, 63-credit curriculum requires courses in the medical aspects of rehabilitation, vocational evaluation and system techniques, and rehabilitation client services. Degree-seekers also complete two pratica and an independent study project.

    The WVU Career Services website features multiple resources for students and alumni, including resume-building software, a professional etiquette guide, and elevator pitch tips. Virtual services include Handshake and Focus 2 Career. Degree-seekers can also learn how to use social media effectively during a job hunt.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.8 undergraduate GPA and must take the GRE or MAT. Other admission requirements include three recommendation letters and a personal statement. WVU waives out-of-state tuition for online degree-seekers. Graduate students can apply for a College of Education and Human Services scholarship.

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